If there’s one thing that the people of Belize know how to do, it’s to celebrate — and 2021 marks a special year for celebration. It’s been 40 years since this Caribbean country gained independence from the United Kingdom. And while Independence Day was recognized on September 21, the festivities are continuing throughout the year. Travellers Rum is celebrating in their own unique way — by releasing a special limited-edition rum to commemorate the importance of the year 1981.
1981: A Rum Crafted With Care
Travellers is no stranger to vintage rum. Their aged, signature Don Omario vintage rums honor the company’s founder with a delicately aged 15 year blend — one that was crafted by the Don himself. But at least as much care has been put into the development of this 40th anniversary edition. The 1981 Limited Edition Rum is first double rectified and then aged for a period of 15 years in bourbon casks. At that point, they’re transferred to sherry casks for another six months to offer a flavor that’s refined but smooth and sweet but possessing a delicate sense of complexity. It’s a taste pleasant enough to be enjoyed straight ― but as a 128 proof vintage, you can count on it to pack a punch as well.
If 64% alcohol content seems like an odd percentage to you, you can be guaranteed it’s by intent. The 1981 edition was intentionally chosen to be presented to consumers at barrel strength. That means what you taste is exactly what came out of the barrel. It’s a rum for connoisseurs, and that’s reflected in the fact that it’s only available in limited numbers. This is a rum to be sipped, not one to be mixed with coke or otherwise diluted with mixers.
Travellers and Belize — A Relationship That Goes Way Back
The history of the Travellers brand is closely tied with the history of Belize, and it intersects with the story of the nation’s struggle for independence in fascinating ways. Jaime Omario Perdomo, Sr. opened Travellers Bar in Belize City in 1953, at a time when the country was quite different. Belize in the early 1950s was still a time of colonial rule, and still a time when the country’s economy was fueled by a plantation infrastructure — but it was also a time of reform and of bold politicians pushing back against their colonial overseers.
It was the earliest days of the push for independence, one in which both the United Kingdom and neighboring Guatemala had each staked their claims. As a man of humble originals, Perdomo had little influence on the bigger picture — but the Travellers name was a reference to the bulk of his clientele, and he gained a cosmopolitan view of the world around him while still being situated in Belize City. At the time, Belize was known as British Honduras — and as representatives struggled to find their voice among the conversations between the United Kingdom and Guatemala, Perdomo and Travellers were trying to find their place in the larger liquor and spirits industry.
As was common at the time, Travellers produced its own spirits and made use of local flavors and essences to create his own signature blends. Travellers would become a popular name among liquor connoisseurs, and Perdomo would eventually build his own distillery. By the time Belize would finally hammer out its independence in the early 1980s, Perdomo stood as proof that the people of Belize and ideas had already carved out their own self-determined path. The family business would become registered as a limited company in 1983, and the family would gain full control over production in 1989.
Fittingly, the Perdomo family took a hands-on approach to the development of this particular anniversary spirit. It’s a celebration of both the history of Belize and the history of Travellers, and the Perdomos have taken a personal approach to everything from the marketing to the blend to the bottling of the product. Its taste is like nothing that Travellers distilleries have produced, but it is held to the standards that have been in practice since Belize was still known as British Honduras.
Come down to Belize and toast to the country’s self-determination together. It was a long and hard road, and it’s worth celebrating in person. But if you can’t make it down to paradise, that’s okay too. The 1981 Limited Edition Belize Rum — like other spirits in the Travellers catalog — can be found in limited retailers throughout the United States as well. Be sure to make a reservation before they sell out, and treat it with the care that it deserves. This is a one-of-a-kind spirit — and once it’s gone, there will never be anything quite like it again.